Late in August of 2006 Ivan strolled into our lives. He was 14 years old (he turned 15 on February 14, 2007) and had been a one-woman dog all his life. Suddenly, he had to deal with three here-again / gone-again college kids and Gracie and Garbo, two much younger female Airedales, one a rescue dog.

Ivan's ears stuck straight up (strange yet alert-looking) but he was pretty deaf, except when the neighbor kids were out playing. He had serious arthritis in his rear legs but he went charging out the back door at least once a day, chasing our girls Gracie and Garbo.

It was amazing how quickly Ivan embedded himself in the household routines. He never missed "his" share of the breakfast blueberries. He knew who to snuggle up to for ear scratches and when it was time for a bed time treat. If he saw his leash, he headed to the garage for a ride in the car.

It was fascinating to watch the adjustments that Gracie and Garbo made for our senior citizen. They used to wrestle every morning and chase each other all through the house every afternoon. Ivan was sent sprawling twice the first week and the girls moved their horseplay outside. Gracie even gave up delivering her jumping greetings to our friends. When I would call the girls in after their final night run in the back yard, I'd flash the back door light for Ivan. If that didn't work, Gracie would run back out and whiz past him so that he'd see the movement and follow her in.

It wasn't all easy. Ivan was on one medication when he arrived and we added two as time went by. He didn't always get outside in time but, bless his heart, he was always heading for the door. Ivan was so clearly grateful for his life but we were the ones blessed to have such a loveable fellow. Who said you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

At the end of this August, Ivan started losing weight and was losing the ability to stand. After all three kids had a chance to say goodbye, we put him to sleep. Gracie and Garbo were very quiet for two to three weeks. And then, one morning, they started wrestling again.

It was a great year of the (old) dog.

Sue and Dave
Phoenix, Arizona

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